Casting coup

Jul 26 2013, 15:54 IST
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Geety Sahgal Geety Sahgal
SummaryThe success of a film made on real life legendary heroes depends majorly on the actors playing them

A lot more goes into making a film on real life heroes and heroines as one has to keep in mind their spirits, emotions and struggles

When Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra had announced Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, I wondered how he would tackle the film version of the star athlete. An inspiring story no doubt, but biopics somehow conjure up images of a documentary film. Also would the audience like to see the protagonist revisit the Partition tragedy etc. But Mehra did well, playing a bit on Milkha’s romantic side, portraying his spectacular rise to the top with the right dash of drama, humour and most important, getting the cast right.

Farhan Akhtar playing Milkha was, undoubtedly, one of the strong points of the film. His transformation was stunning to say the least. The film has proved beyond doubt that to make a compelling biopic you need not stick to the star system, but an actor to get under the skin of the real person.

A point had been proved with Paan Singh Tomar, where Irrfan had been cast as the legendary athlete turned dacoit. There too, the actor’s resemblance to the real life Tomar, his complete transformation and strong dramatic scenes ensured a gripping film, plus one that got good box-office returns. Next on the cards is a biopic on star boxer Mary Kom being essayed by Priyanka Chopra. Now it is the actress’s turn to show how well she can change herself from a glamorous star to the Olympian pugilist and display her fighting spirit. Given Chopra’s killer instinct, there is no doubt that she will get it right.

Correct casting does not have to do only with sportspersons. No one can forget Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. If the Hollywood director’s film made a worldwide impact, it was his vision that transformed Ben Kingsley into the Indian Mahatma.

There are talks of films being made on Kishore Kumar and Guru Dutt, and if reports are to be believed, Ekta Kapoor has bought the rights of cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin’s life. While the casting of Dutt and Azharuddin is still unclear, I am looking forward to seeing Ranbir Kapoor step into the shoes of the great Kumar.

A lot more goes into making a film on real life heroes and heroines as one has to keep in mind their spirits, emotions and struggles.

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